Andy Album Review (2020)

Andy (2020) album art; Photo Courtesy of:

Click here to read the highlights of this album review.

2020’s relentless barrage of bad news has taken a toll on pretty much everyone and everything. People all across the world are being affected both physically and mentally by the global pandemic. As a result, many are turning to music for some form of comfort as we isolate ourselves in our homes. 

One artist who I have often found comfort in during times of stress and uncertainty is Jacob Anderson, who makes music under the alias Raleigh Ritchie. His music is often introspective, personal, and aware of the fragility of humans, which can feel affirming to those who do not like to speak out about personal issues. 

Born in Bristol, England, Anderson is a sort of jack-of-all-trades. In addition to singing/rapping and writing all of his own music, he also has experience producing music, acting, directing, and lending his voice for narration. You’ve perhaps recognized him as Grey Worm in the television series “Game Of Thrones.”

“Andy” is the title of Anderson’s second studio album, which was named after his grandfather’s nickname. The nickname has since been passed down to Anderson and holds significant meaning to him. “Andy” is the follow up to 2016’s “You’re a Man Now, Boy” and, while it shares similar themes, you can sense a clear growth in Raleigh Ritchie’s songwriting abilities and production style since then. The most striking features of “Andy” come in the form of Anderson’s lyricism and the often gorgeous instrumentation with the help of a string section. This adds another layer to Anderson’s R&B, hip-hop, and pop sound he crafted on his first record. 

Here are my thoughts on the album, track by track:


This track serves as a great album opener because it lets you know right away the kinds of internal struggles Anderson will face throughout the record. His flow on this track is impeccable with syncopated rapping and smooth transitions into singing. Anderson’s rhymes and lyricism on the first verse alone are impressive on their own. It is quite fascinating following his painfully honest stream of consciousness as the track progresses. He grapples with the pressure society puts on us to be “better,” commenting on how talent and efficiency are sometimes held in higher priority than one’s own health:

“Nobody asks me if I’m okay

And even if they did I would lie and just say

“I’m fine, good vibes, goodbye, good day sir”

The hater inside is the Vader of shade”

As the bridge kicks in before the final chorus, Anderson falls deeper and deeper into his own mind as the strings crescendo, creating an anxiety-ridden sound before the final chorus. Here, he questions his own everyday choices and morals when he raps:

“I’m too hard on myself but not in the right way

It won’t help if I stay in my bed all day

So I should seek real help so I can help myself

And work on that part before someone else

I should be a vegan, stop eating living things

Recycle properly and stop just binning things”

Overall, this track serves as a great thematic starting point for the album with a compelling performance from Jacob right from his very first words. The use of strings in this track really pulls everything together and they sound like something that could fit in a horror movie with the ferocity of which they are played. It is all very cinematic and even dizzying at some points but in a totally captivating way. 

Time in a Tree

If I were to explain to you exactly how much I love this song, you would be reading this article for days. It is easily my favorite Raleigh Ritchie song and one of my favorite songs of all time. 

The track begins with vocals that are reminiscent of a recording from the 40’s. It creates a beautifully vintage vocal on top of modern instrumentation.

Similar to the opener “Pressure,” “Time in a Tree” is about wanting to escape societal hardships. Anderson sings about not wanting to grow up, longing for a happy place, and self-reflection. It is a heart-wrenching and painfully relatable track. The song has a hint of hopefulness as the following is sung during the chorus:

“I just want time in a tree

I need a place just for me 

Somewhere that I can be free 

Keep the faith and just be 

What you’ll be”

The track is instrumentally gorgeous. When the drums come in, the track has an instant punch that draws you in. The song’s plucky strings add lots of character. It is a slow burner with a chorus that feels like a warm hug. It even has a rap breakdown about halfway through that will throw you for a loop and shock you with Anderson’s emotional performance. I truly and honestly would not change a single thing about this track. Great vocals, great mixing, great instrumental, memorable lyrics, and relatable. If you do not get a chance to listen to this album in full, at least listen to this song. 


“Aristocrats” is the most politically charged track on “Andy” with one of the catchiest hooks. I would suggest listening to this song while watching the music video, as they complement each other so well. (Anderson also directed the fantastic music video, which you can view here).

The song is about feeling alienated with your country, home, and/or family. Both the song and video are particularly directed towards England and their overwhelmingly “white” past. Anderson feels that he does not particularly “fit in” with his country because of his skin color, which is also something that I think a lot of black Americans can, unfortunately, relate to. 

I would say that this is the most accessible song on “Andy,” which is not a bad thing by any means. The beat is reminiscent of the typical trap instrumentals we see in popular music’s current landscape. The chorus is large, extremely catchy, and easily one of the most fun moments on the record, even if you have seen a lot of the song’s tricks by the second verse. 

Party Fear

“Party Fear” is an introvert’s anthem. It is self-aware, sarcastic, funny, and has great production. The vocal performance from Anderson on this track is compelling yet playful (even if the “I’ll get through it!” part of the chorus is a bit cringy). The beat is lo-fi and the synths on the second verse and chorus are perfection. The strings are yet again a highlight on this track, elevating the chorus along with Anderson’s beautiful harmonies.

Like on “Time in a Tree,” “Party Fear” has a rap breakdown on the bridge, but this time the vocals are pitched down. I usually do not mind pitched down vocals when they are done well (see “Fairly Local” by Twenty One Pilots), but I cannot help but feel like it would have sounded so much better if they were pitched normally.

In the bridge, he comments on the mundane nature of parties. It is all quite relatable:

“I don’t feel good, I don’t feel right

I don’t wanna talk, I don’t feel like it

And my brain hurts, and my chest tight

I don’t like fun when it’s organized

Don’t wanna socialize, I feel s***

So I sit with a cat I hate, and stroke it

I f*****’ hate this cat, in fact

Cat, get the f*** back

Get another drink, stand by the sink

Eat pretzels, have another drink”

“Party Fear” is one of the more forgettable tracks on “Andy” because it has to contend with the previous track which was much more exciting. While funny and relatable, it does not do enough for me to love it.


Worries” picks the excitement right back up from “Aristocrats” after “Party Fear.” Right out the gate, you get a nice, rhythmic piano groove with some jazzy syncopated trumpets and a trap beat before the chorus breaks out and the hi-hats speed up. This one is especially fun to sing along to and you will probably be singing it by the third chorus. 

I like that this song gets to the point and does not overstay its welcome. I especially like the bridge in this song that drops out most of the instrumentation except for the strings and the bass with some beautiful vocals from Anderson.

When the third verse hits, Anderson’s rapping is front and center. It is here where I really want to spotlight the timbre and tone of his voice. There is such a relaxing quality to his voice, even if the song is energetic. I would totally let Jacob Anderson read me a bedtime story.

The song pulls through with a strong final chorus, subjecting the listener to a wall of shouted, harmonized vocals that are quite satisfying to hear. 

The lyrical content is pretty straightforward and even a bit dark. Anderson is speaking directly to someone when he selflessly explains that he did not want to worry the person with his dark thoughts and mental struggles. He does not wish to put his burdens on anyone else. This results in Anderson bottling up his feelings. He even ponders in the second verse:

“If I didn’t exist

I wonder if I’d be missed?

If I was six feet in the ground

Would anybody leave me flowers?”

Again, the lyrical content is painfully relatable for a lot of people, as are most of the songs on this album. “Worries” is a straightforward, fun, yet lyrically dark cut from “Andy.” 


STFU” is a cynical slow burner with a thumping kick drum and a grand chorus with beautifully layered vocals. It is a song about telling the constant voices in our lives, both in our head and externally shut up. 

You are once again treated to some more rapping during the bridge. It is not his best group of bars on the album, but it is a nice contrast from the sung verses, which are not anything to write home about.

One thing that continues to annoy me about the song is the high pitched “woo!”s and “yeah!”s that are thrown into the mix during the verses and bridge. I am not sure who decided that sounded good or added anything to the song, but I do not like it all.

The final chorus is a bit of a let down because it never fully leans into the instrumental after the second chorus, leading to a bit of an anti-climatic end. It left me wanting a much bigger ending or at least something reminiscent of the fantastic second chorus. 

Despite my complaints, I like the straightforward nature of the song, the grand chorus, and Anderson’s personality on the track. I would put it on the same level as “Party Fear,” if not a bit higher. The outro to the track is a nice string interlude that leads well into the next song. 

27 Club

“27 Club” is a bit of an oddball in the tracklist. At just 2 minutes and 5 seconds, it works as both an interlude as well as a stand-alone song on the album. However, this is not a track you want to skip.

The instrumentation on this track is an absolute standout. It has a unique piano-driven chord progression that leads into an ear-blessing mix of synths, bass, and piano. It even ends with some extremely tasteful flutes. I could listen to the instrumental of this song on its own for hours. 

“27 Club” does not have a chorus. Instead, it is split between two parts – singing on the first half and rapping on the second half. Anderson’s performance on this track is perfectly done. His flow is great, especially as he transitions to a whisper towards the end. His vocals are some of the best on the album. 

The lyrical content on this track is some of his best writing as well. The track is titled “27 Club,” named after the large list of musicians, actors, and artists who have died at age 27. Anderson gets brutally honest once again on this track. I will let these lyrics do the talking:

“I feel bad I never joined the 27 Club

I never knew that I would fall in love, level up

Made a date with the devil and then I stood him up

I’m still afraid he’s gonna get to me and settle up

My potential is a double edged sword

A check I wanna cash, can’t afford

F*** it, I’m a liar, I’m a fraud

Rather hit a wall than a door

We been here before”

The track also ends with some incredibly sad whispered lyrics that you must hear to appreciate.

The emotion that Anderson packs into this 2-minute song is like clowns being packed into a clown car. It is about growing up, not feeling good enough, getting dealt an unlucky hand in life, and race relations. For such a short song, “27 Club” is a masterpiece of a song. It left me wanting much more.


We are once again introduced to the cynical yet completely unfiltered Raleigh Ritchie on “Sadboi.” I like that the song switches from a 6/8 time signature during the verses to a straight 4/4 time signature during the chorus. The slightly detuned pianos on the verses combined with the Clarence Palmer sample during the chorus adds a vintage feel to the track (I wanna say 50’s?) that harkens back to “Time in a Tree” earlier in the album. 

When the chorus hits, it might catch you off guard at first because it is so different from the verses, but I kind of like that about the track. It is one of the more unique moments on the album and shows that Anderson still has some tricks up his sleeve deep into the tracklisting. The beat and deep bass are what give the chorus such a great punch. However, the Clarence Palme vocal sample gets old pretty quickly. It might even turn people away from the track entirely.

The lyrics are all about Anderson being honest with his emotions towards his family, society, and himself. The most important lyrics of the song (in my opinion) are when Anderson comments on the pressure for men not to cry when he sings:

“Boys never cry, but I cry all the time

I could fight it, but I would be lying

I’m stuck in my ways”

This song is an interesting curveball towards the back-half of the album, although it gets annoying on repeated listens.


“Shadow” is, unfortunately, one of the more forgettable moments on “Andy.” It is not a bad song. The problem is that it feels one-dimensional among a tracklist of some amazing songs with more interesting and complex instrumentation. 

It has that signature string accompaniment that we are used to from “Andy”, but serves a much less prominent role than in other songs. The buildup to the chorus where the strings begin to swell promise for something satisfying, but the chorus feels empty. Following such a weird song in the tracklisting, “Shadow” is, in a word, safe. 

I like Anderson’s performance, especially during the back-half of the song when he breaks out into his more impressive vocal capabilities. I also like that the song ends by allowing you to fully absorb the very danceable beat that plays during the chorus. I wish they would have let that part play out longer, adding layers to the beat.

The lyrics on this song are centered around a past relationship. It is about moving on, but also missing the times that Anderson and this person spent together. He refuses to let his past relationship drag him down, though. 

In the context of the album, “Shadow” is underwhelming.


“Structure” is an interlude that really adds almost nothing to the album. This is the only song on the album that I would safely say is a “skip.” The artistic decision was made that this song be recorded on what sounds like a smartphone (I assume to make the song feel “raw”?) and I fully disagree with this decision. How are you going to give us such beautiful and rich instrumentation on cuts like “Time in a Tree” and “27 Club” and then give us an iPhone recording? 

This song sounds and feels like a failed demo. It is just Anderson and his piano with a forgettable hook. 

The message of the song is something that can be assumed just from listening to all of the tracks prior to this one. Essentially, Anderson wishes for structure in his life and explains that music has been an outlet for him to achieve said structure. 

Thankfully it is only an interlude, which makes this a lot less offensive than if it were a full song. The one thing I do like about this track is how the string section comes in with a tasteful transition into the next song.


“Squares” will make you completely forget about “Structure” because of how great it is. If this song does not put a big smile on your face, I am not sure what will.

Anderson’s amazing vocals open the track with an organ-like piano to accompany him until the string section sneaks into the song to delight your ears. When the drums finally kick in and the strings round out the sound, it works so well. The strings are soaring high right with Anderson’s voice during the grand chorus.

Once again, Anderson’s quirky penmanship is on full display:

“I’ve never been arrested

I’ve never been that invested, babe

But let’s investigate.

Drugs are cool, f*** school

Nothing’s impossible, f*** rules

F*** a song, just sing it wrong

‘Cause I think I’m in love”

“Squares” is an extremely sweet love song that also talks about not fitting in. The instrumentation is grand, Anderson’s vocals are stellar, and, despite being repetitive, the hook is catchy as hell. 

Big & Scared

“Big & Scared” delivers an appropriate and satisfying closer to “Andy.” It is the most personal of all of the tracks on the album and nearly made me cry the first time I heard it. I believe that this song is most effective when you have listened to the entire album so that you have a good idea of the kinds of struggles Anderson goes through.

Lyrically, the song is a conversation Anderson has with his younger self. It has bits of humor that will make you chuckle, but it also deals with some very dark topics. 

The song is so well written because it is so honest about the hardships of life, especially Anderson’s own, but it is also hopeful. It is as if Anderson is giving a hug to his younger self and telling him everything will be ok. This song must have been therapeutic for him to write, but it very well may be therapeutic to so many others who can relate to his experiences

Instrumentally, the song does a good job spotlighting Anderson’s vocals and the message he is trying to convey. The plucked strings and xylophone are especially delightful. The instrumental is very cinematic as it grows more and more until the final moments of the album. It makes for an ethereal end to the album.

I absolutely love that it all ends with a callback to “Pressure”, the first track of the album.

It really ties the whole album up with a nice bow and I could not have ended the track better.

Final Verdict

“Andy” is an emotional and satisfying listen. Despite some lackluster moments, when this album hits, it hits hard. The fantastic use of a string section and its occasionally vintage aesthetic make it unique. Anderson’s writing is funny, raw, and as relatable as ever. Raleigh Ritchie has crafted an album that feels like a warm hug to anyone facing some of life’s greatest internal struggles. 

Rating Scale:

0 – 4 = Negative feeling toward the record

5 = Middle-of-the-road

6 – 10 = Positive feeling toward the record

Final Rating = 7.9/10

Click here to read the full album review, song by song.